Another death in the vast sea of bobbing heads. There have been deaths far more gruesome. Why all the hullabaloo over this one? It is not the death of the girl that is being mourned, nor the manner in which she died but we are all mourning the death of humanity, of sensitivity, of rule of law, of human dignity. The "fairer sex" having to pay for its "fairness", the "unfair sex" being let off each and every time "unfairly". Mothers of the world, where art thou? Your sons violate the being of the helpless while you are ready to hide them under the cloak of "motherhood". The woman inside you dying a sad death while you all become Gandharis. Fathers not faring any better than Dhritrashtra and the entire society collectively deciding to become myopic wearing coloured lens. As long as it is not my sister, wife or daughter I can easily turn my head the other way.
The women of our country are unsafe even within the precincts of their homes. How is it to perpetually live in a state of fear? How is it to be afraid of your own brothers? How is it to be judged on the basis of the clothes you wear? I met a woman recently during a train journey who told me tales of fear worsened by the utterly unresponsive system. She told me how her school going daughter is stalked by boys raised in a deeply patriarchal society for whom following girls is a source of entertainment. Now the girl is no longer free to go out on her own. From being an independent girl who could move freely on her bike, she is now reduced to being dependent on her father to ferry her around. They are reluctant to go to the police knowing that no action shall be taken against the unscrupulous.
The daily violence that women in our country have to go through makes me think that we are actually a deeply misogynistic society. All the worshiping of Goddesses seems a farce to me. Recently I visited the Kamakhya Devi Temple in Guwahati where the vulva of Goddess Sati is worshiped. In a way it celebrates womanhood and the power of creation that women alone possess. In the same country, the sanctity of women is being violated every day. The inner "shakti" of women been reduced to a flicker due to years of suppression and exploitation which has turned them into "abla" living in perpetual fear and anxiety. The above mentioned temple has a festival called "Ambuvaci Festival" where the menstruation of the Goddess is celebrated. At the same time we have customs which bar women from going to the temple or near any worship place when menstruating. Customs such as these denigrate women and her womanhood at every level. A woman is respected only if she follows the norms laid down by the society without questioning. Women have since long been treated as the sole repository of family's honour and society's values whereas "men being men" go out and have "fun".
For the soul that departed I just have to say:
"I sing songs today
now that you are no more.
The life of freedom
for which you aspired
Is finally yours forever!
You died everyday in this world,
In heaven alone you shall live."
Your death has profoundly affected the country today. Some conscience have apparently been stirred. Hope this time it is strong enough to churn out the bad from the society. Change is a slow process but a beginning has to be made. The need is for the systemic change. Policing and laws alone cannot stop the mistreatment being meted out to women. Mothers have to teach their sons to respect women and for that they have to first respect themselves, their daughters and daughters-in-law. Fathers should educate their girls and refuse to pay dowry for their marriage. Finally, all the women should refuse to be fearful. Every incident of eve teasing has to be resisted and not to be taken silently.
This is my last post of the year. Hence, I must take a resolution which will stay with me not just for the coming year but throughout my life. In my capacity as a keeper of the law of the land I shall take cognizance of each incident of violence against women. I will do my bit to create a society where there is freedom for everyone. The following lines of Rabindranath Tagore shall serve as my guiding lamps:
"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."